Badge of honor Vermillion Police are among an elite group By: David Lias Whenever members of the public need assistance from the Vermillion Police Department, they can rest assured that they are being served by a elite group of law enforcement officers. The department recently received accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) recognition program after a painstaking process that began over two years ago. Only one other police department in South Dakota â�?�? Rapid Cityâ�?�?s â�?�? has received similar accredititation from CALEA. â�?�?The CALEA recognition program was designed to meet the needs of smaller law enforcement agencies,â�? Vermillion Police Chief Art Mabry told the Vermillion City Council at a recent meeting. The program, he said, identifies 110 standards that address life, health and safety issues, critical legal issues, and conditions that reduce risk and high liability exposure. â�?�?All of the standards are mandatory. Agencies in the CALEA recognition program follow the same process steps as accredititation,â�? Mabry said. Those steps include enrollment, self-assessment, lock inspection, on-site assessment, commission review and decision, and maintaining compliance and accreditation.â�? Agencies must remain in compliance with all standards, maintain proof of compliance and live by the letter and the spirit of those standards, he said. Accredited departments also must annually submit reports to CALEA. Agencies must go through a re-recognition process every three years, Mabry said, to maintain the recognition award. â�?�?Seeking to establish the best professional practices, the standards prescribe what agencies should be doing, not how they should be doing it,â�? he said. â�?�?That decision is left up to the individual agency and its chief executive officer.â�? The CALEA recognition provides objective evidence of an agencyâ�?�?s commitment to improve research, management and service delivery, Mabry said. Recognize agencies are also able to better defend themselves against allegations of misconduct and lawsuits. They reduce risk and high liabiity exposure. â�?�?By doing so, they may be eligible for a reduction in cost of liability insurance,â�? he said. A CALEA inspector traveled to Vermillion in November 2007 and spent four days reviewing the local police departmentâ�?�?s policy procedures. He also interviewed staff and reviewed the operations of the department to determine if it met all 110 recogntion standards. At the conclusion of his assessment here, he submitted a 16-page report to the CALEA commission, which states, â�?�?I was very impressed by the Vermillion Police Department, and its commitment toward the recognition process. The written directives were well-written, and will provide a strong foundation for operating policies and procedures in the future. The dedicated personnel that I had an opportunity to meet and interact with not only presented themselves in a professional manner, but also took great pride in their police department. â�?�?I found the department to be in compliance with all standards, with no major concerns.â�? â�?�?Having gone through this process, I can tell you thereâ�?�?s a reason that so few agencies seek and qualify for CALEA affiliation,â�? Mabry said. â�?�?The process is challenging, and it requires opening the department to a detailed professional assesement by CALEA.â�? Mabry told the city council that maintaining those standards will be just as challenging. â�?�?However, the citizens of Vermillion deserve only the best, and continuing in this program will ensure that the Vermillion Police Department will continue being the best of the best. â�?�?The chief also expressed personal thanks to every member of the Vermillion Police Department. â�?�?This process was not limited to just a few members,â�? he said. â�?�?Every officer and staff member contributed to this effort,â�? Mabry said. â�?�?This is the third law enforcement agencie with whom Iâ�?�?ve been associated.